Headstands and sun salutations can be challenging enough at room temperature. Now, imagine doing them at about 100 degrees.
At Heat Yoga, 3607 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, yoga classes of varying difficulty levels and styles are taught in a heated room that can reach upward of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I personally always enjoyed sweating it out,” said owner Beth McClelland, who began practicing yoga as a way to combat back pain in 2009 and opened the first location of Heat Yoga in 2013.
“There was no other hot yoga studio in Cedar Rapids at the time,” she said. “The closest was in Iowa City and I knew there were people who’d appreciate one closer.”
This year the studio opened a second location in North Liberty, 565 Cameron Way.
“North Liberty has been growing exponentially in the last few years,” McClelland said. “The population there is young and active and I saw it as an untapped market.”
Now, McClelland and the other instructors of Heat Yoga will be able to expose more students to the benefits of hot yoga. Benefits like muscle strengthening, heightened flexibility and detoxing the body. All things that McClelland, 36, said she has experienced within her own practice.
McClelland took her first yoga classes as a way to treat back pain that came as a result of weight training. However, she said yoga helped her back pain in an “unexpected way.”
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“I came in thinking ‘maybe I’m just really tight,’” she said. “But then I found out that my core was nowhere near as strong as I thought it was.”
Her yoga practice helped her strengthen her core and take some of the strain out of her back muscles.
Muscle strengthening is one of yoga’s main benefits, whether you practice hot or regular yoga. A well-rounded practice will engage every muscle in the body and will allow you to build strength while maintaining flexibility.
“We tend to lead very stagnant lives and all that sitting can cause our muscles to tighten,” McClelland said. “A regular practice can counterbalance that and I think you definitely get a bit more of a fluid stretch with the added heat.”
The higher temperatures of a hot yoga class can accelerate the warming of the muscles and joints and can help students reach deeper stretches and poses.
As can be expected, higher heat also means that pools of sweat collecting on each student’s mat are a common sight at Heat Yoga. This is not only a manifestation of physical detoxing of the body but also a visual reminder to let all the stresses of the day drip out onto your mat.
McClelland said this detox is just what some of her students need to turn their day around.
“When I see someone come in before class and I can tell that they’re stressed,” she said. “It makes me so happy to see them walking out after class with a big glowing smile on their face. ... That makes everything worth it.”
IF YOU GO
• What: Heat Yoga Studio Cedar Rapids
• Address: 3607 First Ave. SE, #C, Cedar Rapids
• What: Heat Yoga Studio North Liberty
• Address: 565 Cameron Way, #103, North Liberty
• Phone: (319) 804-9642
• Website: Heatyogacr.com